First Listening Session on Future of Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Aug. 9 in Ames

Mark Rasmussen

AMES, Iowa — A listening session to gather input on the future of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture will be held Wednesday, Aug. 9, at Iowa State University.

The session, which is open to the public, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center, 2508 Mortensen Road.

This is the first of several listening sessions to be held around the state, led by a task force that is gathering input from the public. The dates and locations for other listening sessions will be announced later. Public comments also can be submitted online at the following website,…

This spring, the Iowa Legislature passed legislation to defund and close the 30-year-old center at Iowa State University. Then-Governor Terry Branstad used a line-item veto to remove language that would have closed the center, but signed the bill that removed its state funding, approximately $1.7 million. As of July 1, the center’s only new revenues come from earnings from an endowment established by private giving.

Wendy Wintersteen, endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Mark Rasmussen, director of the Leopold Center, named a visioning task force to hold the upcoming listening sessions. The 11-member task force is co-chaired by Rasmussen and Doug Gronau, who chairs the center’s advisory board. The task force is hosting the listening sessions to hear from attendees on how the center may move forward.

Other task force members are: John Gilbert, a farmer from Hardin County; Gail Hickenbottom of Practical Farmers of Iowa; Patti Naylor, a farmer from Greene County; Bob Riley of the Riley Resource Group, Pleasant Hill; Ann Robinson of the Iowa Environmental Council; Ron Rosmann, a farmer from Shelby County; Lisa Schulte-Moore, professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State; Suzanne Shirbroun, a farmer from Clayton County; and Cody Smith, vice president of Iowa State University Student Government.